Digital Overload: Average Adult Will Spend 34 Years Of Their Life Staring At Screens

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NEW YORK — Think you spend a lot of time staring at your computer screen? A new survey may surprise even the most screen-addicted tech user. Researchers say over the span of one’s life, the average adult will spend not months, not years, but decades gazing at their digital devices.

A poll of 2,000 British adults, commissioned by Vision Direct, found that the typical person will spend a staggering 34 years looking at phones, computers, or televisions. During the typical adult lifespan, from ages 18-81, researchers say a person will be glued to their screens for over 13 hours a day.

That adds up to 4,866 hours each year and a stunning 301,733 hours throughout those 62 adult years. Those figures have seen a big spike during the coronavirus pandemic, with the poll finding that video calls have doubled during the quarantine.

“We’re lucky to have devices that connect us with the outside world,” says Benjamin Dumaine, of Vision Direct, in a statement. “A similar pandemic taking place 30 or 40 years ago would have seen people coping with the lack of contact in very different ways.”

Good For Communication, Bad For The Eyes

Researchers found that over half of the respondents admitted their screen time strained their eyes. Despite the strain, four out of 10 people say they rarely stop to rest their vision. Another 12 percent of the survey said they never take a break.

“It’s important to be aware of what excess screen time can do in terms of your eye health and keep on top of overdoing it when it comes to screens,” Dumaine adds. “We’d suggest making the most of the government’s advice to exercise, to help give that essential screen break.”

The poll adds that adults are glued to their devices from the minute they wake up. The average adult starts looking at a screen within 20 minutes of getting out of bed. Almost a third of the respondents switch on a device within five minutes.

PC Time Overtakes TV Time

Researchers say adults are spending most of their screen time planted in front of a computer. Just over four hours a day are spent looking at a laptop, while three-and-a-half hours are devoted to television each day.

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Despite doing a little bit of everything these days, phones came in third, with adults spending two hours and 25 minutes a day swiping through data. The survey found that adults also spent some of their days using tablets, gaming devices, and e-readers.

No One Wants To Say ‘Take A Break’

Although the poll says we spend more than 13 hours a day in front of a screen, respondents believe less than half of that time is used productively.

For parents, four in 10 say their kids spend too much time on their devices too. Despite being in charge, two-thirds of those parents said they feel like hypocrites telling their children to turn off the screens.

A quarter of couples have also had a fight over their partner’s screen time habits.

“There are positives and negatives with screen time, but as long as people are mindful of when to limit use, there doesn’t need to be any long term damage,” Dumaine said.

Vision Direct recommends everyone use the “20-20-20 Rule” when looking at their screens. The rule advises you take a break every 20 minutes, look away for 20 seconds, and turn your attention to something at least 20 feet away.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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